U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Published in ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING, SOFTWARE AND DECISION SUPPORT: STATE OF THE ART AND NEW PERSPECTIVES, edited by A. J. Jakeman, A. A. Voinov, A. E. Rizzoli, & S. H. Chen (Amsterdam et al.: Elsevier, 2008).


Earth system modelling has taken on increasing importance over the past several years. These models are being used to address an increasing number of environmental and global change problems of societal concern (e.g. Adams et al., 1998; Easterling et al., 2000; Foley et al., 2003). Perhaps most commonly known is the application to possible greenhouse-gas induced warming (Hoffman et al., 2005). Other compelling problems include the climatic effects of land use changes, aerosols (including sulphate emissions, and smoke from biomass burning; Erickson et al., 1995; Oglesby et al., 1999), changing trace gas fluxes, interactions and feedbacks with the global carbon cycle and the impacts of changing nutrient fluxes to earth's ecosystems. While originally based on general circulation models of the atmospheric component of climate, over the years the models have expanded to include oceanic circulation, land and sea ice, the full biosphere, atmospheric and oceanic chemistry, and biogeochemical cycles (such as carbon, sulphur, oxygen and iron).